LETTING OFF STEAM


| September/October 2004



Three years after the tragic events at Medina, Ohio, concern over the safe operation of historic boilers remains high. Fortunately, a generally saner atmosphere has replaced the paranoia that was witnessed in the immediate aftermath of Medina, and states appear to be taking pragmatic steps towards not only ensuring safe and proper operation of historic boilers, but also ensuring the ability for the continued operation of our old machinery.

In 2003, the state of Ohio created the Ohio Historical Boilers Licensing Board to draft guidelines governing the operation of historic boilers. Now, word comes that the National Board of Boiler & Pressure Vessel Inspectors, the national organization that drafts rules and specifications for the boiler and pressure vessel industries, has activated a task group to study the Board's historic boiler codes.

From what we've learned, this task group will focus on a review and possible revision of Appendix C of the National Board Inspection Code, which deals specifically with inspection of historic boilers

Several active owners and operators of steam traction engines have been tapped for the task force, and it appears their primary role will be reviewing comments made to the Board since the adoption of Appendix C. We hope the planned review is a positive sign the Board wants to keep abreast of prevailing opinion by keeping its finger on the pulse of the hobby.

This comes on the heel of the Board's 73rd general meeting, May 10, 2004, in Nashville, Tenn., where one of the scheduled talks given by Morris Snow, chairman of the Board's historic boiler committee, was titled 'Potential for Disaster Historic Boilers.'

Many of us wondered what the Board was attempting to accomplish at its national meeting, so I called Donald E. Tanner, executive director of the Board, to express concern over the tone of the event.